Ope Doors at Renfrewshire. 8.9.18

A team of intrepid experts will go underground to solve a centuries-old mystery this summer during the biggest exploration yet of Paisley’s unique medieval Abbey Drain.

The intricate underground structure is believed to have carried material from Paisley’s 850-year-old Abbey to the nearby River Cart – but no one has ever established where and how it met the river.

Ope Doors at Renfrewshire. 8.9.18

Now, a team of archaeologists will excavate an area next to Abbey Close to try to answer that – with the hope their findings could help the drain become a bigger visitor attraction in future.

The two-month project (running from May until July) is being managed by Renfrewshire Council and includes an extensive programme of activity to involve the local community.

The dig is being run by Guard Archaeology with volunteers from Renfrewshire Local History Forum, supported by funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic Environment Scotland.

Paisley’s Abbey Drain is an ornate underground passageway, around 100m long and believed to be more than 700 years old, which was discovered in the 19thcentury and rediscovered in the 1990s.

Previous archaeological digs have revealed carved slates featuring the earliest written polyphonic music – and largest collection of medieval pottery – ever found in Scotland.

Ope Doors at Renfrewshire. 8.9.18

Community activity planned for during the Big Dig will include a series of short films and a documentary made by students from the University of the West of Scotland, school visits, volunteering opportunities, and free talks and workshops for the general public.

The drain itself won’t be accessible to the public during the dig – but there will be a chance for residents and visitors to go inside it, as in previous years, during Doors Open Day in September.

Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson said: “Paisley’s Abbey Drain is a hidden treasure and people are rightly fascinated by it – so we are delighted to be able to run a project which will engage the community and bring the stories of the Abbey Drain to life for residents and visitors.

Ope Doors at Renfrewshire. 8.9.18

“The team behind the Big Dig hope to solve some of the unanswered questions around it and that may lead to further exploration or even a more permanent visitor attraction in future.

“If so, that would be a perfect fit for the wider push to use Paisley’s rich heritage and culture to bring new footfall to the town and build on our growing reputation as one of Scotland’s top visitor destinations.”

Riona McMorrow, Acting Head of The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Scotland, said: “It’s incredibly exciting to think that the Big Dig might uncover the long held mysteries of Paisley’s Abbey Drain.

“It is thanks to National Lottery players that we have been able to help fund this innovative programme of activities which will nurture and build the community groups interested in improving Paisley through their heritage.”

Caroline Clark, Acting Head of Grants at Historic Environment Scotland (HES), said: “We’re delighted to have contributed funding to support the Paisley Abbey Drain Big Dig through our Historic Environment Support Fund.

“This is a fantastic project that will not only explore the hidden history of Paisley Abbey and help enhance our understanding of this fascinating site, but also provide an opportunity for the local community to get involved in archaeology and engage with the rich heritage on their doorstep.”

You will be able to keep up to date with the Big Dig and see the full programme of activity via www.paisley.is

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Mill is the free, bimonthly, culture and lifestyle magazine for Paisley and Renfrewshire. Every glossy, compact-sized issue is packed with engaging and diverse features covering local events, local people, beauty, fashion, food, travel, interiors and much more. You’ll find Mill in shops, cafés, salons, restaurants, leisure centres, pubs and offices, all over Renfrewshire. If you want to get involved or would like to advertise, please contact us on email: info@millmagazine.co.uk, or via our social media channels or website.

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Ferguslie Learning Centre - Info Day - Social Media

Our Ferguslie Learning Centre provides certificated learning opportunities at beginner’s levels within a friendly, community environment.

Pop along to our open day on Tues 8 Jan from 10am-2pm. Alternatively contact Kathleen on 0141 842 1015. www.westcollegescotland.ac.uk

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paisley own hall
Ensuring the benefits of Renfrewshire’s ‘buoyant’ economy reach right across the region was the hot topic at the area’s annual Economic Development Conference yesterday (Tuesday 20 November 2018).
paisley own hall
More than 150 staff from jobs, skills and economic development agencies attended the popular conference organised by Renfrewshire Council’s economic development team Invest in Renfrewshire, held at Paisley Town Hall, which this year focused on tackling inequalities and delivering inclusive growth.
Delegates heard how Renfrewshire’s economy is greatly improved, with the highest employment rate across the Glasgow city region and more businesses generating a greater turnover than this time last year.
paisley own hall
They also learned about new developments and opportunities set to boost the economy even more, including a manufacturing innovation district being developed next to Glasgow Airport and £100million being invested to transform Paisley town centre and its cultural venues.
Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills delivered the keynote speech.
He said: “The Scottish Government recognises a strong, vibrant and diverse economy is essential to our national prosperity. We are committed to delivering inclusive growth and tackling the inequalities that prevent people from achieving their potential.
“We have invested £48 million to develop a National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland. Located at Inchinnan, Renfrewshire, it will provide support for manufacturing businesses, help to attract investment, and connect all of Scotland’s engineering universities and colleges.
“Our devolved employability support service, Fair Start Scotland, offers a distinctly Scottish approach where participation is voluntary for everyone who chooses to take part. We want the process of finding work and starting a new job to be seen as an opportunity and choosing to take the opportunity of support can’t be driven by fear of sanctions.”
Colleagues from Creative Scotland and the Council’s regeneration team outlined plans to develop Renfrewshire’s creative economy, while delegates also discussed the changing labour market.
Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “Renfrewshire’s economy is buoyant, and this conference sees the organisations contributing to its success share best practice and consider the next steps.
“We’re helping more people find and sustain work and are working hard to create the conditions which bring new businesses to the area and enable established businesses to grow and innovate.
“Over the next five years we have made a long-term commitment to help people most in need into work and do more to support start-up and early stage businesses with exciting plans in place to grow the creative business sector and attract thousands of high skilled jobs in manufacturing.
“I am pleased that the conference focused on how best to achieve inclusive growth as this is central to improving the opportunities for current and future generations in Renfrewshire. It is vital the area’s economic growth benefits everyone and that’s why we are targeting our resources to communities facing deprivation and to help people unemployed and underemployed.”
Fast facts on the Renfrewshire economy
• Business incubator InCube supports the start-up of 300 new businesses each year
• Programmes to help people into work are rated the best performing in Scotland
• At 76.1%, our employment rate outstrips the entire Glasgow city region
• Weekly earnings for Renfrewshire residents are £28.50 higher than the Scottish average
• Hosting major events this summer boosted the local economy by £1.25million
• 80% of 16-64-year-olds are economically active, but by 2041, our working age population is expected to decrease by 2.1%
• Manufacturing provides employment to 11% of our total workforce with 358 different manufacturing sites in the area, including world-renowned Rolls-Royce and Diageo.
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Photo 1 shows the Town Hall conference
Photo 2 shows (l-r): Ruth Cooper, Economic Development Manager, Renfrewshire Council; Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, Scottish Government; Alasdair Morrison, Regeneration Manager, Renfrewshire Council and Councillor Marie McGurk, Convener of Renfrewshire’s Communities, Housing and Planning Policy Board.
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Then prepare for entering the world of work in a safe, supportive and friendly environment!

During this course you will update your CV, gain job hunting skills and get inspired to take positive steps for your future.

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Preparing for Employment runs one morning a week over five weeks. Sessions are on a Tuesday 9:30am to 12:00 noon. It is FREE for those on benefit.

Want to know more? Contact Kathleen at our Ferguslie Learning Centre on 0141 842 1015.

West College Scotland has named Liz Connolly as its new Principal and Chief Executive.  

She succeeds Audrey Cumberford and will take up her new position on Monday (3 September).  Ms Connolly has been the College’s Vice-Principal Corporate Development since its formation in 2013.

Commenting on her appointment, Liz Connolly said:

“It is an enormous privilege and a huge honour for me to be appointed new Principal and Chief Executive of West College Scotland.

“Since merger, the College has developed into one of Scotland’s largest educational institutions and become an important partner to schools, businesses, local authorities and community groups across the region.

“We are an important part of the identity of Paisley and Renfrewshire and one of my priorities is to make sure we remain so.  We will do this by continuing to invest in our Renfrew Road estate and ensuring that what we teach fits the needs of a modern regional economy.

“West College Scotland faces many challenges but I know that as Principal I can rely on the goodwill and support of our outstanding staff in the years ahead.”

West College Scotland teaches 22,000 students, full-time, part-time and online.  It has 1,200 staff working at campuses in Clydebank, Greenock and Paisley, equivalent to about 1% of total regional employment, and has an annual turnover of £70 million.  

Keith McKellar, the Chair of the Board of Management, who appointed Ms Connolly, said:

“I am delighted Liz has agreed to become Principal of our College. She emerged from a very strong field of candidates but impressed the Board with her vision for the College’s future.

“West College Scotland is a large-scale organisation, a major influencer of the educational landscape across a huge swathe of Scotland.  Liz’s vision, allied to her record in education and business, convinced us that she is the right person to lead the College into the next stage of our development.”

West College Scotland’s Ferguslie Learning Centre provides certificated learning opportunities at beginner’s levels within a friendly, community environment.

The courses on offer have been designed to assist adult learners who have little or no formal qualifications, which will help them increase their confidence and personal wellbeing, employability skills and career opportunities!

If you are not sure what to study then please pop into the Centre between 10am-2pm on 22-24 August, and have a chat over a cup of tea or coffee. Our Communities Team will be able to help you decide which programme would suit you best. For more information on our courses click here (link to: http://www.westcollegescotland.ac.uk/communities-and-outreach/ferguslie-learning-centre/)

Courses available include:

  • Building Learning Opportunities in our Communities
  • Working in Early Education and Childcare
  • Furniture Upholstery Application
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  • Developing Further in IT
  • Getting Started in IT
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PUPILS at Renfrew High have created their own comic book with storylines inspired by the town’s rich history.


Now they have seen their work, called ‘A Trip ‘Frew Time’ printed and published with a special launch event at the school.

The project was in collaboration with Renfrewshire Leisure’s school libraries attainment and creative learning teams, along with West College Scotland and the Scottish Book Trust who provided funding.


The comic book’s fictitious stories written by 30 pupils and accompanying illustrations were based on events and historical places in Renfrew and was part of the school’s participation in the First Minister’s Reading Challenge pilot project, at Renfrew High.

Pupils were helped to produce the comic book by Magic Torch Comics, who held a series of workshops in the school.

As well as having a copy of their own comic book creation, pupils will also receive an accredited qualification from West College Scotland to add to their school record of achievement.


Renfrewshire Leisure’s chief executive, Joyce McKellar said: “The pupils have done a tremendous job in creating not only the storylines, but the publication of the comic book itself. It’s something they can be proud of.

“As well as learning about their home town, the project has also stimulated the pupils’ enthusiasm and engagement in reading for pleasure.”

West College Scotland’s Principal, Audrey Cumberford, is leaving the organisation to take up a similar role at Edinburgh College.

Ms Cumberford has been Principal and Chief Executive of the College since its formation five years ago, following the merger of Clydebank College, James Watt College (Inverclyde) and Paisley’s Reid Kerr College. Before merger, she had been Principal of Reid Kerr College.

In a message to all College staff, Keith McKellar, who is Chair of the Board of Management, said:

“I want to record our deepest thanks to Audrey for her outstanding leadership of our College.

“Audrey led us through a period of unprecedented change and significant turbulence in the sector.  In doing so, she built for the College a reputation as one of Scotland’s most dynamic and highly-regarded educational institutions.

“Whatever challenge Audrey faced over the past five years, she did so with integrity, honesty and openness.  These qualities are her hallmark. For me, her greatest achievement has been to ensure those same qualities now define the culture of the organisation which she led so well.”

Ms Cumberford, who is widely regarded as among the most influential and forward-thinking leaders in the sector, commented:

“Having worked at Reid Kerr and then West College Scotland for nearly twenty years, it will be a wrench for me to leave so many wonderful professionals and good friends. Together, we met many challenges and I want to thank them all for the support they have shown me throughout.

“I am confident the ambitious plans we have developed will allow the College to continue to enhance its reputation as a first-class provider of education and training, delivered in state-of-the-art facilities in Clydebank, Greenock and Paisley.

“I am now looking forward to taking up my position at Edinburgh College, which is where I began my career in the sector in the 1990s.

“In the meantime, I wish everyone at West College Scotland the very best for the future.”

The Board of Management will now begin the process of appointing a new Principal.

If you are looking for the chance to improve your confidence and self-esteem, make new friends and learn new skills through a range of outdoor activities, community activities and work experience, then don’t wait a minute longer.  The next Prince’s Trust Team programme starts on Monday 21 May from our Ferguslie Learning Centre. Contact Jackie on 07881 783 790 for further information.

Click here to apply: https://bit.ly/1QrDrk6